UPDATED @ 11:45AM This entry has received a lot of positive comments from various sources. I am going to continue to clean the entry and make additions/subtractions/links to it. With the presence of hyperlinks, I think that this piece can eventually evolve into a centralized, “Definititve piece” about the coaching issue.
When I was younger, Caulton Tudor (and the whole News & Observer staff) really irked me. Through the 1990s, as many of the old-guard, Daniels-family-appointed-cronies matriculated out of employment with the News & Observer, I began to realize that I was wrong about Tudor. Sure, his views on ECU athletics may be a little warped because his connections to the program…but that doesn’t preclude the guy from being very good at what he does.
Through the years, Tudor has evolved into perhaps the premier ‘ACC Historian’ working at a newspaper; and, through the years, I have found myself appreciating him more and more. Typically, when Tudor (and Ned Barnett) decide that they want to be right about something…they do a great job of being very right.
This morning’s column was almost one of those mornings. Although I disagree on the margin with bits & pieces of Tudor’s perspectives, the over-arching points are pretty spot on.
Chancellor Needs to Make the Call
In this morning’s News & Observer, Caulton Tudor draws a simple and succint portrait of the current situation with NC State’s Basketball program:
The Herb Sendek situation is simple. If N.C. State is satisfied with the basketball program’s results and still has confidence in the coach’s ability to make improvements, school chancellor James Oblinger should say so. If not, State needs to settle up financially and bring in a new men’s basketball coach pronto.
Honestly…this is where I get the most scared. As many of you know, there is often a helluva a lot of more to numbers and statistics than immediately meets the eye. This website will continue to spend significant time and effort painting as accurate and complete of a picture as possible on as many statistical metrics as we can.
But, that doesn’t meant that Chancellor Oblinger has the same luxury. As odd as it is to grasp, the folks around the Athletics Department don’t necessarily know, study, or care to apply as deep of analysis as many of us internet geeks. They should. But they don’t.
Lee Fowler has burned a couple of statistics into his brain. Period. “State has been to 5 NCAA Tournaments in a row” being the primary “achievement” (We will have more on the ‘significance’ of this soon). You can bet that he is hammering the Chancellor at every turn with this justifications for being so wrong in his original decision to retain Sendek five years ago.
That Sendek, after 10 seasons, has lost a lot of the fan base is certain.
This part is certain. And this part is hopefully enough to facilitate a change.
But, NC State is different is different than most places. “Losing the fan base” is definitely a big deal, and the apathy that complements the disenchanted creates various problems within the NC State community. But, at NC State, apathy does not necessarily carry with it negative financial impact and therefore the fans carry smaller sticks than at many of our peer schools.
Because of the system of Lifetime Rights, the best and biggest fans are put in painful catch-22′s. We don’t agree with how the basketball program is slowly being killed or how the Athletics Department is generally run with no goals or focus on performance, but we have NO recourse other than to “whine” because of the disproportionate amount of money (that we would forfeit if we walked away) invested into the blind hope that one day State will be great again.
The NC State community has given huge sums of money in the last decade on the promise and marketing strategy that we want to be, yet in reality, nobody at NC State wants to ever strive for greatness or make the hard decisions to create greatness.
So if State wants out of this union, the school must take the initiative. Oblinger is going to have to pull a Marye Anne Fox. He must drive over to Sendek’s house and deliver the same short speech Fox once dropped on football coach Mike O’Cain: “Luv ya. See ya.”
This isn’t one of our strong suits. Hasn’t been since Willis Casey & Bruce Poulton left. You can’t even call Marye Anne Fox’s firing of O’Cain proactive when you consider how many years he was allowed to fester in mediocrity. At Carolina, Carl Torbush and Matt Doherty delivered very similar results as those of O’Cain and Sendek, yet both were given only three years of opportunity. The same amount of time that Tyrone Willingham was given at Notre Dame. How has that move worked out?
There would be repercussions, of course, starting with an expensive buyout.
No problem. Expensive is a relative term.
And, sure, firing Sendek might scare off a couple of potential targets. But let’s face it: The big guns aren’t going to chase State in the first place. The most successful coaches like to pick their places, and a fox hole with Mike Krzyzewski on one side and Roy Williams on the other just isn’t a great place to pick.
Sorry, Caulton. This is a loser’s mindset. This is the mindset of inferior people that get to keep their job forever because they stick around while those more attractive employees around them keep getting promoted or offered other jobs at other companies. As we said yesterday, the Herb Sendek Sunshine Squad and the media can whine all they want about injustice and how great of a coach Sendek is.
The only judgement that really matters is the judgement of the market. If Sendek is as good of a coach as many proclaim, and if he has done such a super job at NC State then he is in a great position and the market will value him accordingly, scooping him into a new job with no problems. I guess that is a “loss” with which NC State would always have to deal.Herb Sendek has had a DECADE of opportunity to build a case for himself by participationg in the highest-profile conference in the country and with the tradition-rich resources of some of the best facilities in the country. Nobody can complain that he hasn’t been given the opportunity to build a resume. If nobody else wants him, then NC State fans are left wondering what we have done to be the ones who get to keep him?
Seven years ago, Mike O’Cain’s staunchest supporters were simiarly convinced that NC State was under-valuing “Coach O”. They proclaimed that “State would regret losing O’Cain” and the uneducated predicted lunacy (like Adam Gold’s proclamation that O’Cain would turn Darian Durant into a Heisman candidate). How’d that work out for you? Ultimately, the market judged the Mike O’Cain that our idiots cherished so much quite differently than they did. And, this season will mark the 7th that market will have placed O’Cain on a sideline without a “Head Coach” title as he will be starting his 5th different job in the last 7 years with his third different school.
Unfortunately, Tudor’s comments in this section also reflect the mindset of Lee Fowler. It is a mindset that has permeated through a mediocre culture in Raleigh so long that too many people actually believe it.
But, the next NC State coach CANNOT afford to buy into it. We play the exact same number of games each year against Roy & K as we do against Oliver Purnell and Seth Greenberg. Additionally, the local, regional, and national attention of playing on such a coveted stage has to be embraced by a candidate built like a winner. Not one built like a whiner. This attention on the sport is an ADVANTAGE that almost no other school in the country has. Supplement this advantage with our amazing facilities and you have what Dick Vitale said about our job 10 years ago (before we had the RBC), “NC State is a sleeping giant.”
But could State find a better fit than Sendek? Ab-so-blasted-lutely. A coach with more charisma and a better sales pitch to hot recruits would be more popular. Short term. Even if that coach just came out and said eating a fishing worm would be preferable to losing to Carolina, the State fans would be delirious — at first.
Ah yes. The importance of FIT. Where have I heard that before?
But long term, the overriding challenge doesn’t change. If the next coach, whenever the time comes, can’t beat Duke and UNC, the heat will be turned right back up. That doesn’t mean State should surrender and settle for third.
First of all, kudos for saying this. This speaks to my previous comment about not wanting a wuss for a coach to begin with.
Secondly, there is a lot of bullshit in this statement. “Not beating Duke and Carolina” can be defined on A LOT of levels. To be clear, no NC State coach in history has ever failed as miserably against Duke and Carolina as Herb Sendek…and he got TEN YEARS OF OPPORTUNITY. Jesus! What more can you ask?!?!?!? How is that really so much heat? The guy has banked almost $10 million over a decade of the most failure that any coach has ever experienced at NC State. How about giving me some of that heat?
I contend that NC State fans can accept a losing record against Carolina and Duke as long as the program shows the ability to achieve some GENUINE success and provides legitimate opportunities for greatness. Not every year. But at least in SOME YEARS. The problem in Raleigh under Lee Fowler’s leadership is that there is no measureable definition of terms like “success” and certainly no understanding of the word “greatness”.
People that have truly reviewed the numbers understand how Herb Sendek has manufactured and bloated his record on the back of horrible schedules. Even his current ACC records cannot be directly compared to NC State’s historical records because of the addition of Florida State (and now the rest of the conference)
The rest of us also realize how disproportionate Sendek’s failure is against Top 25-Top 50 competition. Lee Fowler and crew constantly proclaim that NC State wants to be “competitive” and a “Top 25 or Top 15 program”. Yet, Sendek’s overall regular season record against the RPI’s Top 25 is 13-61; iIn the last five ‘great’ years he has compiled an 8-26 record against the RPI’s Top 25. Shouldn’t a program who claims to be a Top 25 program actually be able to compile something close to a .500 record against Top 25 competition?
Folks, everyone of these tough games are not played against the almighty Duke and Carolina. Yet, Sendek’s winning percentage against ALL good teams is almost exactly the same as it is against Duke and Carolina. The problem is NOT beating Duke and Carolina; the problem is not beating enough programs that we want to claim to be. Duke and Carolina are just the closest examples of these programs.
The goal should be to have the best program in the country, meaning the best on the block.
Again, we have a disconnect between reality and Lee Fowler. A disconnect between those that work for a living and those that have been lucky to fall into positions with our unlit cigar hanging out of our mouth.
People who are successful in the real world usually have an innate desire to win. You can’t manufacture it. You can’t fake it. Losers SAY that they have that exact same composition…and then they spend tons of useless time and energy trying to convince the world that they have it. (See Fowler’s interview yesterday)
Successful people set measureable goals aimed at trying to be the absolute best no matter what the odds. Lee Fowler has never once set such a goal, instead settling for wanting “to be competitive”, “to be good“, “to be Top 25“, “to be Top 15“…all the while whining and positioning every situation for potential failure because of everything from facilities to geography. This helps explain why Lee Fowler’s Athletics Department ranks dead last in the ACC in Championships won since his arrival.
That’s why there needs to be decisive action and fast. After 10 seasons, the school has to know whether Sendek is right or wrong.
Herb Sendek has been given 10 years of opportunity to leverage the nation’s #1 Basketball Conferenceand the significant basketball resources of NC State University. For a host of reasons that are inconsequential at this point, he has not succeeded in a manner consistent with NC State’s history, resources, other programs with similar resources, and the competition against which we judge ourselves. Past behavior is the #1 predictor of future performance. If this wasn’t true no employer would ever need a resume or interview to make a hiring decision. There is no rational reason remaining to expect Herb Sendek’s future at NC State to be any different than the last 10 years.
After 10 years, Herb Sendek has comprised the second worst tenure in the history of NC State Basketball behind the Les Robinson era. During this time period, Duke, Carolina, Maryland and Wake Forest have all significantly increased the success of their programs relative to that of NC State’s program.
After 10 years, Herb Sendek performance is unarguably better than only ONE of the 17 coaches in the 52-year history of the Atlantic Coast Conference that were allowed to coach for a decade or more. In fact, he and Bill Gibson (of Virginia) are the only coaches in ACC history with the opportunity to coach 9+ years and failed to win an ACC Tournament, ACC regular season title, or reach the Elite 8 in the NCAA’s
As Tudor’s very first sentence noted, “If N.C. State is satisfied with the basketball program’s results…school chancellor James Oblinger should say so. If not, State needs to settle up financially and bring in a new men’s basketball coach pronto.”
Conversely, if NC State IS satisfied with the basketball program’s results, then a lot of Wolfpackers will be thankful that University FINALLY clarified its definition of “success” before writing next year’s contribution checks and contributing to the Achieve! Campaign.
ACHIEVE! Is this a joke?